Today's book is not necessarily a fun Summer read, but it's a book that has seriously impacted my life.
Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover.
When Ronnie & I were first married - actually during pre marital counseling - we realized that we were polar opposites when it came to managing money. He liked to save his money, then splurge on big expenditures. I thought the words payday were synonymous with shopping day. Neither of us worried about having a plan for spending our money because we both had great jobs. He had money saved for the future, while I was happy to have enough to pay my bills and have a fab closet full of clothes and shoes.
Our first year of marriage was a challenge. We opened the trailer park the Fall before our wedding. Until our trailers were filled, we were completely on the hook for that big ol payment. Which was fine at first. We had saved back a few payments prior to opening knowing this would be an issue. It really became an issue when January came and we still didn't have enough trailers in to make our payment. All of a sudden we had to adjust our life to make the payment, which we could afford to do at that time - we just weren't happy about it. We took a Larry Burket course at our church and kinda sorta started budgeting. We basically reined in my shopping and our eating out.
We didn't "drink the debt free kool-aid" until after having Josh. I loved my job but I hated leaving him day after day. I had to work because we liked new and shiny things - cars, trips, electronics. We didn't have to keep up with the Joneses, we were the Joneses. We had credit card debt, like everyone else, and we still ate out two to three times a week because we had crazy work hours and who feels like cooking after being on you feet the past ten hours? We were able to pay our bills, but it just started to feel like we were on a hamster wheel. Always running but never getting anywhere.
At this point, we went and spoke with Tom Clayton, a man from our church who had taught our first money class. He always had great business and personal financial advice for us. He recommended we read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. When I read it, it just clicked. It made sense. It was just one baby step after another. We saved up our emergency fund, then started working on our debt snowball. We reining in our spending, worked overtime to pay off debt and after about 16 months of really hard work, we had all our credit card debt paid off. We only owed on our home, business and one vehicle. Did I mention we had John during this time as well? Yeah. We kicked butt. It was a great feeling.
When our little surprise Josiah came along, we were in a place where I could work part time. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for my husband listening to godly counsel and encouraging me to join him in cutting our spending and paying off debt.
Now, it's confession time. We once again have some credit card debt. We had a tenant move out of one of our rentals and they absolutely tore the place up. Big holes in the walls, ruined carpet - just a disaster. They also left owing up money and the deposit wasn't near enough to cover the repairs. We put most of the supplies on a 0% account at Lowes and bought carpet for two rentals at Wholesale Carpet - on a 0% account. The carpet we've just finished paying off and Lowe's is down by half. Since then, we decided it was in our budget to finally invest in a lawn tractor. We bought a John Deere X500 for our very large yard and field and for the park - on a 1.9% interest card with John Deere. Still, we were fine. We planned for the payment and it really wasn't going to impact our finances or current way of life. Then, the truck. Ronnie's 1991 truck was completely done. Our 2000 Subaru needed a new transmission and frankly, we felt bad always having to borrow his dad or his brother truck to do work at the park or hauling our Kubota. We found a good deal on a new truck for Ronnie - at about $20,000 more than we had saved up for a new truck. So we're back on our debt snowball. And I've come to realize that it's ok. We know how to take care of this problem. My goal, my debt snowball - written on the back of our bedroom door just like the last time - is to have everything but the truck paid off by next May.
If you're struggling with debt or if your just tired of being on the hamster wheel, check out Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.
We are proof that it's a system that works.
Don't forget to stop by and check out what my bloggy friend are recommending to read today:
Clockwise, from top center:
Lorrie @ Life and Lessons Learned, Audrey @ Everything Beautiful, Tracey @ Building My House, Jessica @ Redeeming the Home, Charli @ WV Urban Hippies, Selena at Campbell Clan, Kathleen @ Positive Adoption, and Maria @ The Joyfully Frugal Home
Not pictured: Megan @ Parenting Beyond